All About Space Probes

All About Space Probes


Since the late 1950’s, space probes have been sent up to explore the Solar System.

A space probe is a unmanned robotic spacecraft that does not orbit Earth, but instead, investigates in deep space and transmits their findings back to Earth.

A space probe is about the size of a family car. They are launched from Earth by rocket or space shuttle, to travel to a certain target.

A space probe might also carry a second smaller probe for release into an atmosphere .

Some space probes might often carry a space lander craft. The craft is then released to touchdown on planetary or lunar surfaces.

To date, space probes have investigated all the Solar System planets, taken a look at many of the Moons, Comets, Asteroids and have even studied the Sun.

Every Space Probe has different missions and collects different data.

Most probes are powered by a combination of batteries and solar panels.

Most probes are not designed to return to Earth. Some have landed on planets and some have just flown past the planets, taking pictures for scientists to investigate. All the information they gather is used to understand the weather and other changes that happens on planets, other than Earth.

The first probe (satellite) to go up into space was the Sputnik 1. It was launched on Oct 4, 1957, by the former Soviet Union.

The Luna 1, launched by the Soviet Union in 1959, was the first man-made object to go into orbit around the Sun.

Space probes do not have astronauts.

There are three different types of space probes. There are lunar (moon) probes, solar (sun) probes and probes that investigate the rocky surfaces on planets or the gases on gaseous planets. They all have different missions.

Luna 9

The first probe to land on Mars, and transmit pictures from it’s surface back to Earth was the Luna 9, on February 3rd, 1966.

Probes use radio waves to send information back to Earth, or sometimes to a manned spacecraft.

From 1975-82, Russia had six probes land on the surface of Venus, successfully taking photos in temperatures of 855 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Soviet Union launched the Korabl-Sputnik 5 probe on the 19th of August, 1960, into orbit with 2 dogs, 40 mice, 2 rats and a variety of plants. One of the dogs later had puppies, one of which was sent to the then First-Lady, Jackie Kennedy.

The Korabl-Sputnik 5 was the first spaceflight to send animals into orbit and return them back safely to Earth. It paved the way for the first human orbital flight.

The Parker Solar Probe was launched by NASA, in August of 2018. It’s mission is to get closer to the Sun than any other probe has ever been before. The probe will arrive to the closest point to the Sun by 2024, which will provide scientists with the closest view of the star.

The Parker Solar Probe is named in honor of the physicist Eugene Parker, at a cost of 1.5 billion dollars.

The Soviet Union probe, Luna 15, actually crashed into the surface of the Moon, while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were still on it.

As compared to crewed flights, automated space missions are far more economical and of course, less risky to human life.

Billions of dollars worth of facilities and hundreds of people are involved in following the flight of each space probe and in intercepting the data it transmits back to Earth.

Up to 50 space probes have been launched since the former Soviet Union first fired the Luna 1 space probe towards the Moon in 1959.

On July 19th, 2020, the United Arab Emirates launched it’s first ever unmanned spacecraft on a mission to Mars, off the southern coast of mainland Japan. The $200 million “Hope Probe” is scheduled to arrive in February 2021, when it will enter into orbit around the Red Planet and begin it’s missions, marking the first planetary science mission led by an Arab country.

The space probe HOPE was the first of three space missions sent towards Mars during July of 2020, with missions also launched by the national space agencies of the U.S.A and China. They are all expected to arrive at Mars in February 2021.